What do I mean by mindful presence?
This is a skill that can be cultivated, which may be likened to living in the Now.
Often, our minds are wandering. Although we are here now, doing a task, many times we are thinking about what’s next on our list or re-hashing a mistake from yesterday. One of my favorite authors, Eckhart Tolle, gives an excellent description of mindful presence in his books The Power of Now and A New Earth. In these, we learn that our purpose is to allow conscious presence to flow through everything we do. This is what Eckhart calls “our inner purpose.” Being present in this moment is our inner purpose. Of course, our life seems to demand of us that we carry out tasks: we may have a job to do, treatment for cancer to pursue, obligations to family, church and friends. The goal of living with a mindful presence is to be able to align these “outer purposes” with our inner purpose of being present.
When we are able to be fully present in what we do, everything becomes more vibrant and alive.
Most people have had the experience of seeing a person’s body after death. It can be quite shocking. What remains is a shell, but it becomes clear that the Being/Person/Soul/Spirit that once made this shell alive is no longer there, the animating presence has gone. Here is an exercise to try which may help you to sense your own conscious presence. Read through this exercise and then give it a try.
- Close your eyes.
- Hold your arms and hands out in front of you.
- Without looking at your hands, can you sense where they are in space?
- Notice the sensation of a living, animating presence just under your skin. What does this feel like to you? Notice the energy field inside the body, feeling the body from within.
Tuning in to your conscious presence and therefore being more mindful may help you with a variety of concerns, including anxiety, fear, anticipation, and other negative emotions that are based in the future or past. One way to cultivate a mindful presence is to practice regular mindfulness meditation. Your mind will actually build the skill of being in the moment. In the future, we will talk in more detail about neuroplasticity (physical changes in the brain that have been shown to result from mindfulness meditation.) For now, suffice it to say that studies have shown that meditation can physically grow and rewire parts of your brain to make a mindful presence easier. A second way to cultivate mindful presence is remembering to observe moments with your 5 senses. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting in this moment?
A sense of mindful presence can be brought to anything you do. You will find that you are much more often in a state of peaceful calm when you make an effort to align your inner and outer purposes. Make it a goal this week to practice being present in what you are doing, even during mundane tasks like washing dishes. Let me know how this goes!